DOT ready for crowded roads - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

DOT ready for crowded roads

September 11, 2004

Tifton- Traffic is flowing steadily through Valdosta, and just north Interstate 75 through Tift County is the same, but by Sunday afternoon that may be a different story.

"We're looking for a lot of traffic increase in the morning or probably even late tonight right now it's running real smooth," says Danny Griner of the Department of Transportation.

To help it stay that way, 22 Highway Emergency Response Operators, or HEROs have been called in to patrol I-75 from the state line up to Macon. They will help motorists who are having car trouble or medical emergencies.

Frances drove nearly 2.5 million people out of Florida, and traffic officials say Ivan's got her beat.

"We're looking a 4 or 4 and half million this time," Griner says.

Already the Department of Transportation has planned two voluntary alternate routes to move evacuees north.

"On the west side we're going to exit them off at exit 16, run them up through Thomasville, Albany and Cordele," explains Griner.

On the east side motorists can take exit 11, go around Valdosta, through Nashville, and get back on 75 near Perry.

But if traffic still heavy, the DOT is also prepared to one-way the entire interstate from Valdosta to Crisp County.

"Of course that will be our last resort and something probably nobody's ever seen around here."

Traffic officials spent the day preparing themselves for the influx of Floridians, but they say South Georgians should also do their part and take secondary routes when possible.

In the next few days the Department of Transportation will begin stagging dump trucks and bulldozers in Tifton and Albany so that they will be ready to roll and repair roads Ivan may damage.

Posted at 8:35 PM by elaine.armstrong@walb.com